Johnson tells MPs: Back December election to get more time on Brexit deal

Boris Johnson has given MPs an ultimatum of backing a pre-Christmas general election to get more time to scrutinise his Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister will ask the Commons to vote on a motion for a December 12 poll on Monday, and would attempt to pass his deal by November 6 before dissolving Parliament for the campaign.

It comes as Brussels looks set to grant a fresh Brexit delay until the end of January after Mr Johnson was forced – under the terms of the so-called Benn Act – to request a further extension.

The PM said it was time for MPs to “make way for a new, fresh Parliament that can deliver on the priorities of the British people” as he announced his plan in a television interview.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs there would be a vote on a motion for an early general election on Monday.

His opposition counterpart, Valerie Vaz, said Labour would back an election once no-deal is ruled out and “if the extension allows”.

Mr Rees-Mogg accused the Opposition of running scared of voters and said the Government was “willing to work 24 hours a day” to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) through Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru also refused to give their backing to the plan.

Brexit timeline: key dates (PA Graphics)

The PM told the BBC: “I’m afraid it looks as though our EU friends are going to respond to Parliament’s request by having an extension, which I really don’t want at all.

“So, the way to get this done, the way to get Brexit done, is, I think, to be reasonable with Parliament and say if they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal they can have it but they have to agree to a general election on December 12.”

His decision – which follows a meeting of the political Cabinet on Thursday afternoon – comes despite signs of divisions among ministers and senior No 10 advisers over whether to press for a December poll.

Mr Johnson warned Labour not to try to block an election through the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, saying it would be “morally incredible” if they were to do so.

“If Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party refuse to go along with this deal … then you have to ask what is the purpose they think they would be serving in Parliament.”

He added: “We would campaign day after day after day for the people of this country to be released from subjection to a Parliament that has outlived its usefulness.

“It is time frankly for this Parliament to make way for a new, fresh Parliament that can deliver on the priorities of the British people.”

In a letter to the Labour leader, he challenged Mr Corbyn to back his call for an early election and “end this nightmare” for the nation.

The PM said it is “likely” that the EU will grant a delay to the January 31 deadline request based on European Council president Donald Tusk’s comments, though he said it is “possible” a shorter one could be offered to November 15 or 30.

If the later deadline is approved, the PM said “it is clear that there must be an election” to avoid the risk of “further paralysis”.

He wrote that if the January deadline is granted then MPs “will vote next week” on whether to hold his desired election.

The PM offered to “make all possible time between now and November 6”, including Fridays and weekends, available for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be debated and voted on.

“It is our duty to end this nightmare and provide the country with a solution as soon as we reasonably can,” Mr Johnson wrote.

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